Towards National Legislation for Climate Protection
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Marjan Peeters, Mark Stallworthy and Javier de Cendra de Larragán
Chapter 1: The rationale for a focus on mitigation law at EU member state level
Climate change presents the most significant environmental challenge that human society has faced in the industrial (or perhaps any) era. The European Union is playing an increasingly active role in seeking out suitable policy responses and bringing them to legal fruition. This has been notable especially in relation to the primary challenge of securing the mitigation of climate change through reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. While it is clear that a global problem like climate change demands global action, the potential for achievable national (and sub-national) responses should not be overlooked. For instance, by contrast with obstacles encountered at the international level, action at these levels can arguably be developed relatively rapidly, deploying existing legal mechanisms. As climate legislation has developed within the EU, academic attention has focused on the showpiece thus far of efforts to secure mitigation: the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The EU ETS, in effect a market-based instrument captured within an EU-wide regulatory regime, has encountered complex difficulties – especially as to the phenomenon of windfall gains from free allocation of allowances, and problems in maintaining a ‘carbon price’ realistic enough to incentivize low carbon investment.
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